Monday, 9 March 2009

ISAF RRS CASE BOOK 2009-2012; Case 25

In preparation for a rules-evening for my local club the KWS, I’ve been reading the New Casebook 2009-2012.

As promised in this post I’m also posting a few observations on LTW:



Rule 11, On the Same Tack, Overlapped
Rule 14, Avoiding Contact
Rule 16.1, Changing Course
Rule 18.2(b), Mark-Room: Giving Mark-Room

When an inside overlapped windward boat that is entitled to
mark-room sails below her proper course while at the mark,
she must keep clear of the outside leeward boat, and the
outside boat may luff provided that she gives the inside boat
room to keep clear.

Summary of the Facts

Two 15-foot (3.5 m) dinghies, IW and OL, were approaching a leeward port-hand mark. IW established an inside overlap on OL well before the boats reached the zone, and OL gave IW space to sail to the mark and then to sail her proper course while at the mark. After IW passed the mark, OL 87
began to luff to her course to the next mark. IW was slower in heading up, and her boom, still well out, touched OL’s helmsman and shrouds. At the time of the contact IW was a hull length from the mark and over 45 degrees below close-hauled. No damage or injury occurred. IW protested OL under rule 18.2(b), and OL protested IW under rule 11.


The protest committee decided that, because IW did not luff to a close-hauled course while she was at the mark, she did not sail her proper course during that time. IW did not deny this but attributed it to her boom-end mainsheet rig as compared to the centre-lead rig used by OL. The protest committee dismissed IW’s protest, upheld OL’s, and disqualified IW for breaking rule 11. IW appealed.


Rule 18.2(b) required OL to give IW room to sail to the mark and then room to sail her proper course while at the mark. Clearly, between positions 1 and 2 OL gave IW room to sail to the mark. At position 2, IW was ‘at the mark’ and between positions 2 and 3 she was entitled to room to sail her proper course. Her proper course during that time was to luff onto a close-hauled course, and OL gave her room to do so. Therefore, OL did not break rule 18.2(b).

When OL luffed between positions 2 and 3, IW was required by rule 11 to keep clear of OL, and OL was required by rule 16.1 to give her room to do so. OL luffed approximately 30 degrees while moving forward two hull lengths. Even with a boom-end mainsheet rig, a boat sailed in a seaman- like way can turn through 30 degrees and trim her mainsail appropriately
while moving forward two hull lengths. Therefore, OL gave IW room to  keep clear and OL did not break rule 16.1.

OL could easily have avoided contact with IW, and so OL broke rule 14. However, she is not penalized for doing so because neither boat was damaged, nor was there any injury.

IW sailed well below her proper course; in fact she sailed a hull length
away from the mark on a course over 45 degrees below close-hauled and,
as a result, took much more space than rule 18.2(b) entitled her to take. Throughout the incident IW was required by rule 11 to keep clear of OL. Shortly before the contact, IW broke rule 11 by failing to keep clear. It was possible for IW to have avoided the contact, and therefore IW also broke rule 14. However, because IW was entitled to mark-room and the contact resulted in neither damage nor injury, she too can not be penalized for breaking rule 14.

IW’s appeal is dismissed. The protest committee’s decision to disqualify
IW under rule 11 is upheld.


I have a question regarding IW’s infringement of rule 14. According to my understanding, once IW has passed the mark, she is no longer needing mark-room. Which is illustrated by the conclusion that she breaks rule 11 by not keeping clear. How can she be exonerated for breaking rule 14, if she’s no longer a boat entitled to mark room?

Apparently exoneration for a boat, once she is entitled to mark room, goes beyond the need for mark-room itself… perhaps until she’s left the zone?

What is your opinion?



  1. Rule 14(b) should probably read '... or one taking room or mark room to which she is entitled:' similarly to rule 18.5, but it doesn't.

    Any boat that is entitled to room or mark-room is protected from penalty by rule 14(b) but only when it doesn't matter because there is no injury or damage

  2. The new rules mention "At the Mark" in the definition of Mark Room but fail to define "at the mark". If it was the zone it would be so defined. At what point does one exit "at the mark"? This should be the subject of a Rapid Ruling for match and team race umpires - because right now we're making it up as we go along. Same for juries in protests. It would be interesting for the appeals process on an incident like the one described to tackle this issue.

  3. The way I read the appeal, it is IL that broke rule 14, and she is not penalized because it is due to IW's infringement of a rule and because there was no damage.

  4. IW is not entitled to exoneration for breaking 14 under 18.5. Whether IW is entitled to exoneration under rule 64.1(c) is doubtful unless OL has broken a rule which consequently compelled IW to break rule 14.

    I think the appeal is saying that IW was still entitled to mark-room while "at" the mark, that is room to sail IW's proper course and therefore cannot be penalized under 14 in the absence of damage or injury. Taking more room than you are entitled to does not mean you are not still entitled to mark room.

  5. Jos

    I asked a source and received the attached comment.

    (a) the rule does not explicitly say that the entitlement to mark-room ends when the mark has been passed, but in any case
    (b) look at the direction of the course to the next mark and then consider whether whether the mark has been passed, and also
    (c) note that rule 14 does not say 'one taking mark-room to which she is entitled' (Perhaps it should).

  6. Rule 18 says rule 18 applies between boats when they are required to leave a mark on the same side and one of them is in the zone. So whereas most of us thought it applied when sailing TO the mark and whilst AT the mark, the Case certainly implies that rule 18 continues to apply when boats are still in the zone. Prior to the amended Case 25, I would have said both boats in the scenario were no longer at the mark because they had past it.

    In my book, IW is give-way - rule 11 - and OL may luff subject to the restrictions of rule 16.1. IW has also lost the entitlement to room to tack.

    There is no provision in rule 18.5 to exonerate IW for a breach of rule 14.

    IW can only be exonerated for breaking rule 14 if OL broke rule 16.1 forcing IW to break a rule and this would be covered by by rule 64.1(c).


  7. The appeal does not exonerate IW for breaking rule 14. It is saying IW did not break 14 as there was no damage or injury.
    IW is an iside boat entitled to mark room.
    OL has given mark room- ie room to sail to the mark and room to sail a proper course while at the mark. In this case it is clear (to me anyway)the boats are no longer at the mark. However both boats are still in the zone and neither has tacked so 18 is still in effect. As an inside boat IW is therefore entiled to mark room (she doesn't need it and is taking too much room but she is still entitled to it)so 14(a) applies to her and for her to break rule 14 there needs to be damage or injury. As there wasn't damage or injury she did not break 14. She therefore does not need to be exonerated for breaking it!!

  8. IW breaks rule 11 and is disqualified for that because she is not exonerated under rule 18.5 because she is taking more mark-room than she is entitled to.

    IW breaks rule 14: she is not exonerated for that (exoneration comes from either rule 18.5 or 64.1(c)), but Case 25 says she is protected from penalisation under rule 14(b) because she is a boat entitled to mark-room, and there was no injury or damage.

    The effect of rule 14(b) is that, as long as there is no injury or damage, where a give way boat that is entitled to room or mark-room contacts a right of way boat, neither can be penalised under rule 14. This is not a problem, because, except in one exceptional case (which Gordon described in a boat can only break rule 14 if she also breaks another Part 2 rule, for which she can be penalised.

    In the Case 25 situation, rule 18 applies, but at some point, IW will no longer be at the mark and will no longer be entitled to mark-room. That is to say, the entitlement to mark-room switches off, but rule 18 does not switch off.

    What Case 25 tells us is that @3, even though IW has passed, and left the mark clear astern, she is still entitled to mark-room, , which implies that @3 in the diagram, IW is still at the mark.

    So when does a boat cease to be at the mark?

    I think Mike B's advice gives us useful guidance.

    @3, if IW was heading on her proper course (close hauled), she would still be 'overlapped' with the mark, thus at the mark.

    When a boat sailing her proper course to the next mark has left the mark clear astern, then, I think she is no longer at the mark.

  9. I really like what Brass has said about Mike B’s advice that IW is not penalized for breaking 14 because he still has the opportunity to be “at the mark”, if he were steering his proper course.

    Interestingly it seems that US Sailing Appeal #3 is the same as Case 25 albeit in a starboard rounding. But US Sailing, for whatever reason, elects not to say that IW broke 14 in which case they do not have to say he can’t be penalized for it. Maybe US Sailing is just trying to save words on a moot point with regards to 14?


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